Trump’s Trade Deficit Just Rocketed Past Every POTUS In History

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When Donald Trump’s supporters in the GOP are asked about the many scandals surrounding his presidency, they insist that the economy is doing so well that the scandals don’t matter. As it turns out, however, the economy is not doing as well as Trump says it is by any measure he’s ever used in the past to criticize other presidents.

Most notably, Trump has harped for some time about the U.S. trade deficit and how it proves that our government leaders don’t know what they’re doing. A businessman like Trump, he promised, could do so much better.

In just two years in office, the trade deficit under Trump has risen to historical levels. According to The Washington Post:

‘The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the United States last year posted an $891.2 billion trade deficit in merchandise, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies.

‘The results were a sobering reminder that the laws of economics still apply to a president who had promised to supercharge economic growth while simultaneously shrinking the chronic U.S. trade deficit.’

The jobs report for February was more than disappointing. An expected 180,000 jobs resulted in just 20,000, but Trump covered that by saying that income levels are rising (adjusted for inflation, they really haven’t risen much). That little extra money was not spent on American goods, making the trade deficit even higher.

‘Americans spent more on foreign-made iPhones, Toyotas and Heinekens. And as the U.S. economy surged ahead of Europe’s and Japan’s, four Federal Reserve interest rate hikes lifted the dollar, making American exports more expensive.’

More than any other factor affecting that deficit, however, was Trump’s strategy of imposing heavy tariffs on countries like China. The trade deficit with China is on the rise at a rapid pace despite those tariffs, which Trump was warned would be more harmful than good.

‘Tariffs became a key part of Trump’s strategy for shrinking the trade deficit, the difference between the country’s high import bill and its lower export sales. He used the import taxes — on solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum and assorted Chinese goods — to force China and other countries into negotiations, with the aim of rebalancing trade flows.

‘But while negotiations remain underway — with hopes of a deal with China this month — the data released Wednesday showed that significant improvement in the nation’s trade balance remains an ambition rather than an achievement.’

Another measure for gauging the health of the economy is the total spent on services in the U.S. compared to services paid for with U.S. money in other countries. On that measure, Trump lags woefully behind President Obama.

‘Last year’s goods shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, which was set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.

‘A broader measure, which includes the services sector, showed a $621 billion deficit — more than $100 billion greater than the figure Trump inherited from President Barack Obama.’

Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license